What the recent Fedor-UFC soap opera has made clear to me, beyond doubt, is that what the sport of MMA needs, more than ever and as quickly as possible, is an official governing body that ranks fighters, hands out belts, and sanctions title fights.
I don't think even the angriest anti-Fedor pro-UFC fan would really argue that someone should be forced to sign an employment contract that they don't like for an employer they don't want to work for.
Imagine that, in order to run in the Olympic 100m, Carl Lewis had been forced to do this. People would be marching in the streets, and words like "slavery" was being used.
The point is not whether we think the terms are reasonable or not, but whether we acknowledge and respect the right of all human beings to make that kind of decision for themselves without undue pressure being brought to bear upon them.
What I think makes us all really mad and disappointed is that we want to see Fedor vs. Lesnar, a fight that captures the imagination, not three, albeit "worthy"' fights, that just don't quite do that.
There are two ways this could happen.
The first is that the UFC takes over the world, and to all intents and purposes, becomes the sport, making it impossible for someone like Fedor to ever dictate terms to them, without risking being consigned to complete obscurity. I don't think even the most one-eyed UFC fan thinks that this would be a healthy situation.
The second is that there is an official governing body with a charter that all promotions sign up to that would formalize a definitive set of rules, establish the rights of fighters, specify safety procedures, rate fighters, organize when promotions could be scheduled, get officials, and sanction championship fights.
In the second situation, this body would step in and say that the fight had to happen, that it would have to be a co-promotion between the two promotions that employ the relevant fighters. If this didn't happen the non-compliant fighter would lose his title or ranking. Anothe rpossible consequence would be that the promotion would be banned and-or fined.
Without such a body, the sport will be dominated by the UFC's business interests or whoever the dominant promotion is, rather than the interests of fans, and make no mistake, that is the real reason this fight didn't happen.
The UFC wants nothing less than to become this sport and have complete control over it. It is Microsoft in the 90s, and it doesn't want an Apple or a Google anywhere in the game.
In other words, the UFC wants to be a monopoly. In the business world monopolies are investigated and disbanded because they are counter-productive to the rights and interests of consumers and unfair to competitors. What makes a business based around a professional sport an exception?
We are not getting to see Fedor vs. Lesnar because the UFC puts its vision of owning the sport, and its profits, above the interests of fans.
When people were screaming at Fedor for asserting his right to work for who he chooses to work for, they should have been screaming at the UFC to put its money where its mouth is, and match their champion against the consensus champion.
Would the world have ended if the UFC had done a one-off never-to-be-repeated co-promotional deal for the fight? I don't think so. The sun would still have risen and the UFC would still have made huge amounts of money, and continued to do so, even if Fedor had won.
If proof was needed that the UFC is too powerful it is that it was able to persuade Americans, of all peoples, to side with an over-bearing corporation against an individual guilty of nothing more than asserting his human right to self-determination.
It is now time that steps should be taken at a Federal and global level to protect the rights and promote the interests of fighters and fans, the consumers, above those of businesses involved in the sport. The alternative is that the UFC will destroy all its competition, become the sport, and do whatever it wants, including making sure that no one like Fedor is able to succeed unless he agrees to see things their way.
Perhaps the reason Dana White made such a show of upbraiding Brock Lesnar after his over-bearing behavior following his victory over Frank Mir was that it all looked and felt symbolic of what the UFC itself has become: A 265-pound monstrous bully with no respect or concern for anyone or anything except itself.
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